Sitting between city and forest, the pitched roofs of this school by Danish architecture office CEBRA house 650 students and a daycare centre for 100 children.
This project replaces a previous school building on the site that did not meet the daily requirements of students and teachers. Today, the school building actively integrates modern educational methods into its architecture and creates an active, stimulating environment for the school’s users.
Situated between the city of Odder and a public forest, the school draws inspiration from its near context, and connects the various entities across its site. With its pitched roofs and low-height walls, the school building extends the city by resembling diverse housing units at the scale of its students. In the radial, curvy landscape around the school, trees are planted with a gradual transition into the nearby forest.
Circulation is a central theme throughout the building. The school is thus structured in four offset “fingers”, all oriented toward a central atrium, which makes it possible to access and view the common spaces from all parts of the school. The most central common space of the school, a large central atrium, is complemented by a gym and three adjacent, subject-themed plazas: the creative plaza, the science plaza, and the sports plaza. Due to the offset arrangement of the school building, all classrooms and administrative spaces are connected to the exterior by views of the playful landscape outside.
The school’s interior spaces are designed to meet the changing daily needs of both students and staff. Classrooms, hallways, and common areas are diverse and vary in size, shape, and atmosphere: from rooms that are high- or low-ceilinged, brightly or dimly lit, small or large. The different rooms make it possible to teach, play and move in diverse ways during the school day while taking the students’ social needs into account. While the open common areas are useful for larger assemblies, smaller, more enclosed spaces fit smaller groups of students, or offer space for students who wish to spend time on their own.
All of the trees removed during the leveling and grading of the site are reused in the school’s construction. As a warmer contrast to the school’s lighter façade, wood accentuates all entrances, while the material is also used inside the school for furniture and the large wooden amphitheater in the central atrium.
The large multi-functional staircase is a central location at the school, where students gather for events and assemblies but are also used for casual socializing and informal activities during the day. Grey wooden columns pierce through the staircase and lead up to the high-ceilinged atrium space, underlining its special, unifying significance.
An important feature of the modern teaching environment is how movement and exercise are actively integrated into the interior, exterior and the school building itself. The movement, therefore, becomes a natural part of the students’ daily life, with playful hills and ball-sport-playing facilities on the school playground, and a special area designed for physical activity, providing students the possibility to move and play during their breaks from classes. Furthermore, fire access routes are designed as running tracks, while an interior gym leads directly up to the large common room.
The well-being of the students is prioritized and integrated directly into the architecture of the flexible school building. By meeting the changing needs of its users and engaging the students in many diverse activities, Skovbakke School creates a stimulating, creative and fun frame for both teaching and learning.